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Royal Newfoundland Regiment

Honourable senators, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are proud of their military heritage and served with distinction in both world wars. Since we did not join the Canadian Confederation until 1949, Newfoundlanders’ involvement in both world wars was different from other Canadians. While many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians served in the Armed Forces of Britain, Canada and other allied countries, we also had our own regiment that served as part of the British Army during the First World War.

During the Great War, the Newfoundland Regiment fought first in Gallipoli, Turkey, and later in Europe. In 1917, its brave actions earned it the title of “Royal” — an honour no other British regiment received during the First World War. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was the only regiment from North America involved in the Gallipoli Campaign.

After the war, five battlefield monuments were erected in France and Belgium to commemorate the sacrifices of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The monuments are in the form of a caribou — an animal indigenous to Newfoundland and Labrador and familiar to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The caribou was the emblem used on the badge of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

With a bronze caribou at each of the five sites in France and Belgium, it became known as the Trail of the Caribou. However, with no caribou monument at Gallipoli in Turkey, the Trail of the Caribou was incomplete. For many years, there were discussions and efforts to commemorate the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War with a sixth caribou monument at Gallipoli.

Last month, through the efforts and cooperation of the governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador and Turkey, a dedication ceremony was held for the sixth Royal Newfoundland Regiment monument in Gallipoli. The monument, a bronze caribou weighing 1,500 pounds and standing eight feet tall, now stands proudly in Gallipoli to commemorate the sacrifices made by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16.

I was honoured to have participated in the dedication ceremony in Gallipoli along with our Honourable Speaker Senator Furey; the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs; members of Parliament Clifford Small and Rachel Blaney; and representatives of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Honourable senators, join me in celebrating this historic occasion. The Trail of the Caribou is now complete.

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